How I deal with working-mum guilt

8 March 2016
3 minute read

Working mom guilt

As a working mother, I spend a large portion of my working week consumed with guilt about the time I feel I should be spending with my children, or when I am with them, the time I should be spending on my work. If you look in the dictionary under “guilt”, you’ll find a picture of a working mother.

There are, however, some things that make the guilt a little bit easier to cope with. These tips might not work for everyone, every time, but they work for me, some of the time. Here, in no particular order, are the things that make it easier for me to be a working mum:

 Science says quality time is the most important thing
A study published last year in the Journal of Marriage and Family in the States (and joyously received by me) revealed that spending more time with our kids resulted in no improvement in children’s outcomes in a number of areas including academic development and emotional wellbeing. What matters, the study says, is that the time you do spend with your children is focused and loving. Which brings me to my next point...

When I am with my children, I pay attention to them As soon as work finishes, I assume the mantle of devoted mom. My phone goes on a shelf and my kids become my number-one priority. My husband and I cook them dinner, help with homework, bath them, play a game with them and read to them. On the weekend, we’re pretty much all theirs. And I make a point of attending galas and cake and candy days when I can. If quality of time trumps quantity of time, my kids have a winning hand.

Work fulfils me I like my job. And while I have the utmost respect for stay-at-home mothers, I just don’t think I could be one of them. I am just not an all-day-with-the-kids kind of person. When I feel guilty about dropping them at home, slapping lunch in front of them and running to the office, I remember that the alternative, for me, is not something I would rather be doing. At least not all the time.

My children have it pretty good My kids have a roof over their heads, two loving parents, pets, walks in the park, bicycles, grandparents, fun, comfy bed linen, nice clothes and shoes that fit. Their lives are good. So while I may feel a tug at my heartstrings when I leave them to their own devices (supervised by our helper, of course) and I see that they are sad that I am going, I remind myself that we all have a lot to be grateful for. And many of those things are possible because I work. It’s all good.

If you’re struggling...It’s hard to juggle the demands of home life and family life – but it’s important to remember to be gentle with yourself. Instead of trying to cram everything into every day, try to let some of it go. Don’t bake homemade cupcakes for your daughter’s birthday ring, buy them, find someone else to sew name tags on your son’s uniform, and for heaven’s sake, get someone else to help you with school lifts. Try to replace your guilt response with “oh well”, and your emotional state will be the better for it. I don’t always succeed at this, but I try, and it certainly helps. 

About GeorgiGeorgina Guedes is a writer, editor and content producer with a passion for reading, eating and travel. She has learnt a lot in her journey as a personal finance writer, and even manages to put some of it into practice! She lives in Johannesburg with her husband, two children, two dogs a cat and a white picket fence. You can follow@georginaguedes on Twitter.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.

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